The Victim

Chapter Three: Ascent

Favor trading

A nice lady with blonde hair speaks on tv: “… the head of public relationships for the campaign of the incumbent mayor is now involved in a major scandal concerning favor trading and bribes he accepted during his tenure as energy commissary during the—” My husband screams profanity from uncle’s office, making me smile.

“… and we need to know who burned him. For f-word’s sake! This is bad!” he yells. “Get your s-word straight, son. This is a minor setback. All we need to do is find a replacement, someone we can trust,” says uncle. “And we need to clean your image now,” uncle goes on. I walk calmly to the door holding my daughter’s hand, knock, then open the door.

“I’m really sorry to interrupt,” I say. “But we’re going for a walk and wondered if you wanted anything.” “Where’s my favorite lady in the world?” asks uncle, and my daughter runs to hug him. As uncle holds her, he stares at me, as if realizing something. “What if,” says uncle. My husband starts shaking his head dreading what uncle’s thinking. “What if your wife did it?” I contain my smile. “No, no, no,” my husband says. “She doesn’t have the experience. Plus, she has to take care of our daughter.”

I act confused. “I’m sorry, what are you talking about?” I ask. “Be the public relationships manager for his campaign,” uncle says. “Oh, I’d love to, but he’s right, I probably wouldn’t be up for it,” I say. My husband smiles smugly, saying “see?” to his uncle. I know for a fact he hates women. Once, when he was drunk, he said “Women don’t become astronauts because you can’t cook in space.”

Anyway. His uncle is not so convinced; he sees something else. “You know, this would actually be good for the campaign. I can already see it. ‘Husband and wife working together.’ It’d make for very good PR (public relationships) on its own, and you need it right now.”

“But—” my husband tries to protest until uncle stops him with a “shush.” “What do you want, dear?” uncle asks. “Well, I-I would love to help-to be part of the campaign.” Uncle smiles, puts down my daughter and takes my hands affectionately. “Then consider it done, dear.” “Thanks, uncle,” I reply. My husband congratulates me by saying “Oh, for f-word’s sake” before leaving the room.

I start that very day. Throughout the following weeks, I schedule talks, meetings and conferences for us. And I can’t stress us enough. After announcing we’re working together, I make myself a crucial part of his campaign, at least in the public mind. He can’t just dismiss me, it would be seen as sexist. We appear together in the different events we attend. The dark clouds over our marriage, his scandals, seem to clear.

But soon enough I delegate most of the actual PR work on my assistant and devote as much time as I can to speaking in front of the cameras. So much that my husband becomes annoyed I may be stealing his spotlight. We have frequent arguments about it and my role in his campaign, but he understands he can’t just kick me out. Using my authority, I convince the members of his staff to run things through me. They start asking me directly about budget, publicity, transport and even security.

And that last part is specially interesting. You see, there are several nutjobs obsessed with my husband. There’s a man who thinks he’s responsible for some conspiracy to cover up UFOs, another who thinks he’s the reincarnation of the devil, etc. Among them, there’s one that is more interesting than the rest. He thinks my husband may in fact have cooperated with ‘the arsonist’ to burn down rundown businesses and cash in the insurance checks. He’s a former reporter who was expelled for chasing conspiracy theories and has a sort of “crazy” halo around him.

However, in this case, he’s actually right. Our security team determines he’s “low risk.” He only rants on his blog about my husband. And even though his motto is “sic semper tyrannis,” and he’s said on several occasions that “… [my husband] should get what he deserves,” our security chief has classified him as a non-threat. But if my husband knew about him, he would give that former reporter a lot of importance since he’s dug up part of the truth. When I see the report about him, a thousand ideas rush through my head. But there’s one thing clear enough: I have to meet him.

My driver takes me to a clothing store where I’m supposed to be buying new suits and dresses. After hurriedly making the purchases, I leave the bags in the store and exit through a backstreet that leads into an alley. There I meet the former reporter. I spot him before he sees me, and notice him fiddling nervously with a cup of coffee, his eyes darting in all directions at once. I approach him. I’m wearing a blonde wig and sunglasses.

“Does-does anyone know you’re here?” he asks. I shake my head. “Does anyone know you are here?” I ask calmly. He’s surprised by my question. “N-no, no,” he says. “Do you know why I’m here?” I ask. “Y-yes?” he says. “Do you, really?” I ask again. “Well, no,” he concedes. “I’m here because you deserve to know everything. You have worked so hard, and I want to help you.”

I come closer to him and speak in a lower tone, almost whispering. He also pulls his ear to me. “Most of what you’ve said in your blog about my husband is true,” I say. He’s shocked at first, unable to understand what is going on. He backs down, frowns, smiles, then frowns again. “Wh-what do you—” he says. “Look,” I interrupt him, “I’m tired of all the lies, of the corruption, and specially, of him. Let me tell you the whole story.”

During the next sixteen minutes, I present an abridged version of the facts for him, of course leaving out my friend from school’s involvement and my own. I tell him about the people my husband killed, the insurance fraud scheme laundered through tol and how there were a lot of people in on it. Perhaps I exaggerate a little the amount of people that participate in the conspiracy by including government officials, and most importantly, judges and police chiefs.

I tell him how my daughter is the result of him forcing himself on me, which is partially true. By the end of our talk, his former disgust and contempt have become pure, undiluted hatred. “Let’s go to the police then, you can testify,” he says. “Testify?” I say sarcastically. “You think that would amount to anything? He and his uncle own the police and the courts.” They do not. “They would squash any investigation before it made the papers.” They would not.

“But if you talk about it publicly—” he says. “… they would say I’m crazy, take away my daughter and stay in power,” I conclude his sentence. “No. That’s not an option,” I say. He sighs. “What-what are you suggesting, then?” he asks. I open my mouth to say something, but I shut up. Then I say, trembling, “Sic semper tyrannis.” His eyes open wide. He understands what I want now.

“So that’s why we met,” he says finally. “No, no way, it’s too dangerous,” he says leaving. “Listen!” I say in a loud tone, grabbing his arm. “Please, stay,” I repeat, more calmed now. This is the crucial moment. He hesitates, looks at the street that is just a few steps away, and finally looks at me. “What exactly are you proposing here?” he asks.

“That you kill him in front of the whole world,” I say.